The Death of Captain America: Volume I – A Graphic Novel Review

I’m a guy who waits for the collected editions of my favorite comic books, so my knowledge of the death of Steve Rogers arrived long before I read the actual volume in which it occurred. And you want to know something? It didn’t lessen the impact one iota.

This is because Ed Brubaker’s Captain America is masterful. This is not a title looking to shock you in one-and-done scenarios, this is a title where each issue builds off the prior and the author clearly has an epic plot in mind. The story progresses organically and logically.

Collecting issues #25-30, Steve Rogers dies in the first installment and then his supporting characters take center stage. Brubaker gives us a level of richness and complexity with Tony Stark, Sharon Carter, the Falcon, Nick Fury, the Black Widow, and Bucky Barnes rarely seen in comic books. The fact he keeps Captain America just as intriguing and captivating without Captain America is proof enough as to why this man won the Eisner award.

Now we all know who the current Captain America is, and this volume, as well as the preceding issues of this series, really sets up the events leading to Barnes donning the Captain America mask. It makes total sense and it didn’t feel at all forced.

In fact, I’d like to briefly congratulate Brubaker for reinserting Barnes into the Marvel Universe in a seamless, rational, and consistent manner. Unlike another once-thought-dead partner, Barnes has been handled with care and intelligence.

Furthermore, Steve Epting’s art is the perfect compliment to Brubaker’s realism. While cinematic in execution, Epting delivers characters and action that are believable yet extraordinary. His angles and layouts please the eye while strengthening the overall story.

Brubaker’s Captain America has been a delightful and unpredictable joy from the get-go, and I look forward to seeing where he takes us next!

Daredevil: Hell To Pay, Vol. 1 – A Graphic Novel Review

If you’ve been reading Daredevil for any length of time, you know Matt Murdock’s life has been moving pretty fast and furious for literally years. I like this volume in particular because it gives the audience a chance to recalibrate and get a feel for where Murdock has been and where he’s going.

Overall, this volume works to reestablish Murdock’s relationship with his wife, Milla. Milla’s been in this book for some time, but with everything else going on it was easy to put her on the backburner. Writer Ed Brubaker uses the issues comprising this volume to get everyone on the same page about Matt and Milla’s complex relationship as well as set up some conflict involving the two.

It’s not all romance, though. Brubaker also has a new enemy (sort of) for Daredevil to combat, one who is going to give the Marvel Universe as a whole some fits. Before we discover this villain, though, Daredevil must get to the bottom of the Gladiator’s atypical return to mindless violence.

The art by Michael Lark fits the tone of the book perfectly with a great mix of super heroics and crime noir. And the original covers by Marko Djurdjevic are literally breathtaking.

In summation, this volume was largely a chance to reacquaint the readers with Daredevil’s personal life as well as set up some major conflict to come, but at no time did it feel like “filler” material. Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark continue to make Daredevil a must read.

Daredevil: The Devil, Inside and Out, Volume 2 – A Graphic Novel Review

I’m a tremendous fan of Brian Michael Bendis’ Daredevil, so when the news arrived that he was leaving the title, I found myself distraught. Before Bendis’ run, I’d never really cared much for the character. And though many criticized the level of deconstruction he brought to the line, I always found his work riveting and more than entertaining.

That being said, Bendis left Daredevil in enough of a predicament that I wanted to see how this fella–Ed Brubaker–tied up Bendis’ loose ends. Brubaker’s The Devil, Inside and Out Vol 1 impressed me, but Vol. 2 left me in awe.

Brubaker has somehow, somehow, tied up the many dangling plots left behind by Bendis (I believe they agreed upon this, by the way; Bendis wasn’t leaving a mess for someone else to clean up) in a way that was both satisfying and quite cleansing. New plot possibilities have organically arisen from the old, and while everything isn’t exactly back to normal for Matt Murdock (is it ever?), I do feel as though Brubaker has set the stage to move on with his own agenda for the character and has successfully exorcised the benign ghost of Bendis.

So, in summation, I would like to recommend the entire current run of Daredevil. Kevin Smith got us off on the right foot, Bendis brought consistent quality and depth to a character I had never before respected, and Brubaker seems to keep all of the best aspects of what Bendis did, but has now brought his own brand of action and noir, further enriching an already rich hero.